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Cefetra Market Report:

Late December 2023

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Unfortunately, as we write this on the week before Christmas, there has been very little drilling progress made since the last monthly write up – new crop values therefore remain at good levels for both wheat and barley against input prices for Harvest 24. The same cannot be said for old crop prices as we have seen the May 24 futures contract struggling to rebound off recent lows.

China was buying large volumes of new crop US wheat until recently, which saw a period of excitement in the CBOT market towards the end of November/early December. This therefore saw the CBOT wheat market firm quite significantly, resulting in US wheat becoming too expensive and pricing itself out, so new purchases have come to a stop for the time being. French exports remain poor which is why MATIF and LIFFE have found no support in recent weeks.

Feed demand feels noticeably lower so far this season with mills rolling tonnages already and little fresh purchases being made in the spot position or even into early next year. Lower stock numbers, ample forage on farm, and home milling of feed grains are likely to be the main three reasons for the decline in demand that we are currently seeing. The most noticeable reduction in stock would be in the poultry sector after the devastating year we saw last year.

On the back of flat prices and the market struggling to find any upside, farmers have been rather reluctantly selling off odd parcels to bring in some cash, after waiting since August for prices to jump higher. It really is very difficult to predict where this market will go as things seem to be settling down after a turbulent and volatile couple of years.

If new crop values remain as they are into next year, then gross margins should begin to look more reasonable after the worries and stress of this year, with such high input costs for the crop in the shed. The pricing outlook for new crop will all depend on what gets planted between now and the end of spring across Europe. Current planting progression for France is shown in the images below. Planted area saw an increase towards the end of November/Early December but the condition of the crop in the ground is becoming poorer having sat wet and cold for long periods. We believe France are up to around 90% drilled vs 99% this time last year, but time is running out for winter cereals to be going in to see a reasonable yield return and it is unlikely that the ground will dry up enough now until the spring.

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Another key area to watch is Ethanol production – with some companies suggesting they could cut production rates if the price of ethanol does not increase. One of which has a site in the north of England and could have quite an impact on UK wheat demand. For a significant part of this marketing season so far, Ethanol producers have been leading the way with constant demand for wheat while feed demand has eased.

Hopefully feed demand picks up into the new year with some colder weather in order for the market to find some more demand, and we can only hope to see some better weather, allowing growers to get seed in the ground and hopefully revive areas already drilled that are currently suffering!

We have also grown our effort around sustainability with several steps which we hope will allow Cefetra to lead the way in our sector. Cefetra Ecosystem Services will be the bridge between customers, many from leading brands in the drinks and animal feed industries, tasked with sourcing sustainable suppliers, and farmers who want financial returns on sustainable farming practices.

We are running a series of Regional Breakfast meetings to explain our offering.  The next event is at Arrow Mill, Arrow, Alcester B49 5NL on Monday 22nd January. If anyone is interested in attending please contact us.

Simon Wilcox

Manager - UK Farm Grain Origination

T: 01963 363162

M: 07774 822507

E: wilcox@cefetra.co.uk

Josef Grinczer

Farm Grain Buyer

M: 07712 325197

E: grinczer@cefetra.co.uk

To find out more, please contact the team at Cefetra Grain:

Ian Jervis

Farm Grain Buyer

M: 07497 185361

E: jervis@cefetra.co.uk

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